Janie Dee is billed as “one of the most versatile performers on the British stage”, so it is perhaps understandable that her new cabaret show Satin Doll is greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm by her fans. A multi-award winning actress with an enviably broad repertoire, Dee still manages to appear a little nervous as she sweeps onto The Crazy Coqs’ stage. However she soon visibly relaxes and delivers an enchanting, if somewhat idiosyncratic, set accompanied on the piano by musical director Ben Atkinson.
Satin Doll came into being after Dee was prompted to devise a new cabaret act for her return to London after a successful run of Hello Dolly! in Leicester, and the show draws on a broad range of themes from the vocalist’s long and varied career. Distinctly theatrical in style, whether it’s the aching honesty of Kit Hesketh-Harvey’s Casablanca or the supreme positivity of Kander and Ebb’s Yes, Dee ensures that the emotional integrity of each number shines through.
Harold Arlen’s Come Rain or Come Shine and Jerome Kern’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes are both cabaret crowd-pleasers to which Dee brings her own unique interpretation, making great use of her husky lower range. If there is a moment that appears slightly out of sync, it is the Miller/Masser standard Touch Me In The Morning which, despite Dee’s enlightening back story, simply seems out of place performed next to the show’s other material.
There is some comedy in this all-too-short evening, with the surprise inclusion of Tom Lehrer’s Poisoning Pigeons in the Park delivered in plummy tones atop of the piano. Later, Dee dons a bar apron and plenty of attitude to sass out a highly successful performance of The Piano Player’s Mine, an apt choice because Atkinson was also her musical director on Hello Dolly.